December 7, 2011 2 comments

“…and I’d like to thank, along with the Nobel Prize Committee,

Teddy Ruxbin for teaching me to read…”

A Short Cautionary Tale for the Holidays


Okay, so I’ve just aged myself by mentioning Teddy Ruxbin…and for those of you who are TOO YOUNG to know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain.

Teddy Ruxbin was/is an animated “talking” toy bear that “reads” stories while its eyes and mouth move. Adorable. It was the best selling toy in both 1985 (when it hit the shelves) and again in 1986, and its newest version won the 2006 Best Animated Interactive Plush Toy Award. Wow. I suspect the newer version comes equipped with microchips and mini-computers, but the original was operated via sticking an audio cassette into the deck built into its back (and for those of you who don’t know what an audio cassette is…look it up). Granted, we can look back at it now and smile at its “quaintness,” but at the time it was a marvel of modern engineering.

And every parent rushed right out to buy one.

For their child.

Because it was so unique.

And marvelous.

And inventive.

And it kept their children happy.

And quiet.

And occupied.

It became their child’s best friend. An animated toy…that read them stories and sang and rolled its eyes…but couldn’t hold them or cuddle them or interact in any real and lasting way.

But it kept them occupied.

Which gave parents both a “sanity break” and some usually very needed time to do what parents needed to do. Besides, it was just a toy to keep kids occupied, right? Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Come on, you know what my answer is going to be.

I could say that I was incredulous when I first saw the commercials, and doubtful that such a supposedly innovative “toy” would be beneficial to a child’s sense of interpersonal relationships and the importance of reading skills. Well, I could have said that if I was a Psychology major, but I’m a Luddite and hold a degree in English/Creative Writing.

I HATED IT ON SIGHT! Why would someone somewhere think it was a good idea to create something that took the place of a warm lap, a cuddle and the age-old “point at the word as you say it” method of reading to a child?


Now, before you lift me onto your shoulders in adoration, let me quickly add that while my sons were young I let them have every new Video and computer game their little hearts desired.

What, you say, YOU the Queen of the Luddites. Why?

Because, as I writer I needed time to write. Selfish, huh? Perhaps, and there’s a good possibility that I’ll spend eternity shoveling hot coals when I finally kick off this mortal coil, but, in my defense—I did read to them, every night at bedtime and whenever they needed a cuddle and quiet moment during the day. I had my time, they had their time…and we shared our time.

As a result, my sons are both wonderful young men and complete computer geeks who laugh at their mother and roll their eyes when (on occasion) she needs e-help. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

(Didn’t I say something about this being a

short tale?)

So now, here it is…another Holiday Season and TV ads abound with the glories and wonder of E-readers. And, if you read my first Blog, you know how I feel about that.

Bah and Humbug.

But who cares what I think. The Parent’s Choice Blog (blog.parents-choice.org) recounted two New York Time articles which I have cut-and-pasted (my sons told me how to do that) below:

As technology and tastes morph, reading habits follow suit. Two recent New

York Times articles highlight the rise of one children’s reading habit and the decline of another.

A recent Scholastic survey suggests that, contrary to many parents’ beliefs, emerging digital technology could be a boon for those trying to get children to read more. According to the survey, 25% of children “said they had already read a book on a digital device, including computers and e-readers.” Another 57% of survey-takers, aged 9 to 17, said they would be interested in doing so. As children spend an increasing amount of their time plugged into digital devices, parents ought to consider how they can increase the number of books to which their children have access by harnessing e-book potential.

While e-readers gain ground, the Times claims that picture books are losing shelf space to early-reader chapter books. Commenters contest this claim, suggesting that though bookstores may not be selling as many picture books, parents still buy them second hand or borrow them from libraries. Prices, the Times’ readers suggest, are too high for people to be purchasing as many brand new picture books as they did in the past. Regardless of whether picture book readership is actually down, reader comments and the Times interviewees agree: there is no shortage of excellent content in today’s picture books. The article write: “Literacy experts are quick to say that picture books are not for dummies. Publishers praise the picture book for the particular way it can develop a child’s critical thinking skills.” Picture books often have better vocabulary and more nuanced ideas than run-of-the-mill short chapter books. If you want to see proof that the art of the picture book is thriving, check out our Parents’ Choice Award-winning picture books.

Now, believe it or not, I have nothing negative to say about the articles. The facts are correct and, as a writer I’m thrilled to death that there will be a new generation of readers coming into the marketplace. It even indicates how parents can become more involved by looking at the e-books their children are reading and then make efforts to increase the number.

E-Parental e-involvement at its e-finest.

And you don’t even have to be in the same room to do it. Will e-wonders never cease?

As a Luddite I know I’m fighting a losing battle here. E-books will continue and evolve and the kids who are enjoying them now will, one day, download books for their children.

But if there’s any justice in the world, one of those books will be “Don Quixote.”

So there it is. I’ll continue to tip at windmills and hope that one day they might really be giants.

And before I leave you in the mad rush of the Holidaze, one more thing: When you’re out buying your kids the latest and greatest e-stuff, take a moment to indulge in some of the original software: a lap, a cuddle and a storybook to share.


Ho ho


December 3, 2011 1 comment

Wrote new blog…will be up soon…hope

Categories: Uncategorized


October 20, 2011 2 comments


“Books? We dun’t need no stinkin’ books*!”

[*Books being defined here as real books…aka, the kind that are printed (gasp) on paper (faint).]

It’s hard being a Luddite, especially now in the “E-Age” (E for Electronics). Luddites, as a rule, are opposed to new technology or technological changes. Granted when this term was first used it was back in the early days of the Industrial Revolution and the “new technology” that got everyone so hot and bothered was an automatic textile loom…but I think the term is still viable.

For some of us.

Okay…for me.

Now, that being said, let me just add that I am more “Jack-Luddite” than a pureblood. For instance, I use a computer! It may have taken me a bit longer than most to get comfortable using it (like years), but I now do most of my writing on a computer, can receive (and send!) email, finally figured out how to “cut-and-paste” things and, as you all know by now, am on Facebook.

Woo. Hoo.

But I’m still a Luddite at heart and I miss things…things that I took for granted because I always thought they’d be around.

For instance:


       And believe me, “Keyboarding” is not the same thing. There was something so soul satisfying about hearing the clickity-clickity-clickity-DING-craaaaaaaaank-clickity-clickity. [As a Luddite I never owned an electric typewriter.] And something even more soul satisfying when, on those rare occasion when a story “wasn’t going well” when you could 1) tear the paper from the typewriter, 2) rip the offending paper into a million bits, and 3) throw the typewriter across the room.

        A computer is a wonderful tool, but it doesn’t have paper you can tear up and if you only get to throw it across the room once…to realizing how expensive it is to fix.


       Even after I got “comfortable” with using my computer as an “upgraded typewriter,” I would still go to the library to do research. I loved being surrounded by books as I sat at a table, looking up the facts I needed, with a pad of paper and pen close by to jot down notes (yes, I am that old). I had heard about things called the “Information Superhighway” and “Google” and “Wikipedia” but…heck, I wrote horror, not Science Fiction!

       Then, one cold, snowy day, I needed a fact and didn’t feel like getting bundled up to drive all the way across town to the library and, well…the rest is history.


       To paraphrase a popular song from my era:

       “Where have all the bookstores gone?

        Long time passing.

       Where have all the bookstores gone?

       Long, long time ago.

       Where have all the bookstores gone—

       Kindle’s killed them everyone

       When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?”

Answer: Never. We’re not going to learn because this, as the majority of the population has agreed to accept, is progress. Out with the old, in with the electronically brilliant NEW!

And finally, the things I miss the most:


       Okay, I’m ready. Roll your eyes and shake your head; snicker under your breath and flip open your Kindle or Sony or Nook or Kob or Pandigital or download the right APP to your smartphone and hold it up to the screen. E-show me the “book” you’re currently reading.

       Yes, all right, there you go… I stand corrected. You’ve just proven to me that books still exist.

       Or should I say E-xist? And you’re right. It might be hard for a Luddite like myself to accept but I have to face the reality that there are many more e-books available to the public then the actual, real, can-hold-it-in-your-hand kind (aka REAL books).


And don’t get me wrong. I don’t really HATE e-books with an undying passion that would melt the sun with its intensity and throw the entire universe into a never-ending emptiness. Heavens no. In fact, I currently have an e-book of short stories out from Necon Publishing called “Sympathy for the Dead” (which is also available as a POD book-in-hand. Hint. Hint).

But, that being said, I worry that someday, real books may go the way of Dodos and Snow Leopards and Liberal Republicans—a truly endangered species without hope of a breeding program. And, seriously, why would they? E-books are inexpensive to produce, electrons are definitely greener than chopping down trees, they can be downloaded instantaneously, and the supply is virtually (hah hah) limitless.

The important thing is, I’ve been told by many e-readers, is that the books will survive. The stories they tell will go on. And isn’t that more important than the format they’re in?


It is.



Wanting to be as fair and impartial as I can be (considering I’m a Luddite and all) I decided to do a comparison between E-books and Real Books. The results are below:


E-book Real books

Fits easily in the hand Fits easily, unless by Stephen King

Can be read in bright sunlight Ever hear of “Summer Reading”?

Has it’s own light for night reading Book lights—cheap and they work

Fits conveniently in your pocket or purse They’re called paperbacks

Can hold 160–1500 non-illustrated books 2 hands = 1 book

Easy to recharge No recharging necessary

Doesn’t do well if dropped in bathtub Can be dried out, but will be “fluffy”

Reasonably priced downloads Not as cheap as they used to be

Can download anytime, day or night Need to know store hours

Initial cost of reader a bit pricey Even HBs cheap by comparison

Adjustable print size LARGE PRINT available

Make wonderful gifts Yes, they do (and cheaper!)


There. A fair-ish comparison, don’t you think? The e-books do win on some fronts, real books on others…but there is one thing that will always make a real book better than an e-book: You can get books autographed.

True, I’m sure there is some program, somewhere, that will e-print an author’s e-scrawl onto the first page of an e-book, but it won’t be the same.

Will it?

 Write on!

It’s me

September 26, 2011 1 comment


I can’t believe I’m doing this. Me, a Luddite of the First Order…e-writing a BLOG. I’ll be drummed out of the society (drums are good, there are no moving parts…except the stick, of course).

But anyway. I’m here. It’s me.


I miss my typewriter.



Categories: Uncategorized

Kicking and Screaming

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a bit of a, first blog-post as a hostile takeover—but it’s not so much that I’m forcing my presence onto the blog of super-talented, award winning author PD Cacek, but more of me forcing said writer kicking and screaming into the modern age.

And believe me, you do not want to hear the esteemed Mrs. Cacek scream. She’s a regular banshee.

So it is my privilege to welcome you to the new, first ever official blog of PD Casek, “Trish” to her friends. Want to make sure you’ve got the right, PD Cacek…


Night Prayers


Night Players

The Wind Caller

Sympathy for the Dead

                        —Ringing any bells?

Her novels and short stories have won numerous Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Awards.

She’s awesome, right?

Best of all she’s a really terrific lady, one of the best.

So next up, Trish starts (with a little arm-twisting) posting herself. I love reading the blogs of my favorite authors, following their careers, gaining insights to their lives, their inspirations, and the behind the scenes, day to day, life of a writer at work. Trish joining the ranks fills a big gap in my blog reading schedule.

This is going to be great.

I’m something of Trish’s fault. If you really need something to complain to her about, check out my own musings at, RiFT’s Rants.